KUALA LUMPUR, 5 Dec 2008: Former US president Bill Clinton today heaped praises on Malaysia, saying that the world would be a better place if it emulated the country’s harmony and social tolerance.
“Malaysia is the model that there is hope for the future. The people here who are from varied races, religions and all sorts of background have learned to work together and stay together. This is what the world should be like,” he said, adding that memories of this “remarkable nation will forever be in my mind”.
Clinton, who was president from 1992 to 2000, said this at the first BC Sekhar Memorial Lecture entitled, Embracing our Common Humanity.
The BC Sekhar Memorial Lecture series is the brainchild of Datuk Vinod Sekhar, the youngest son of BC Sekhar. One of the aims of the Sekhar Foundation is to foster greater mutual understanding among the peoples of the world.
Clinton said Malaysia had made a remarkable beginning and although there were some political conflicts in the country, it knew how to keep this in check for the good of the nation.
“Political conflicts are good. Nobody is right all the time. It is healthy when you disagree. Hillary (Rodham Clinton) and I have arguments now and then. But there is a proper line between order and disagreement,” Clinton, who is on his first visit to Malaysia, told a packed audience at the KL Convention Centre.
Citing an example, Clinton said during his visit to the Bird Park here this morning, Muslim women in headscarves came up to him and shook hands, asking him how he was and telling him that he was welcome to Malaysia.
“It was a good feeling. If only every country could have this atmosphere. Economy, religion and even science tell us that we human beings do not have a choice but to live together and if we could do just that, we would have a better world to live in,” he said.
Touching on the current global economic crisis, he said it only showed that countries of the world were very much interdependent and even a superpower like the US could not “get away from other nations”.
“The world now has to change the way it thinks. The definition of success must be changed from a win-lose situation to a win-win situation. We must be prepared to embrace others,” he added.
He said Malaysia should look at the things it did right during the 1997-1998 global economic crisis and although there was nothing wrong in the nation’s economy then, it was still affected by the crisis and this reflected how much the world was interdependent.
Touching on the election of Barack Obama as the 44th US president, Clinton said the election of America’s first African American president reflected the diversity of the nation.
“Life is more interesting. The election of Obama is a statement on its own. The US would be on the right side of history. It would be good for all, not only Americans but also the world at large,” he added.
Clinton said he hoped that the new administration would undertake its global obligations in all fields and see that “wealthy nations reach out to the poorer nations of the world”. — Bernama